An ad’s goal is to communicate that promise. It strives to effectively relay that message. A successful ad campaign clearly communicates the promise, doing so in a believable way and in a manner that is both captivating and personally meaningful. Sometimes the message is overt, sometimes it’s much less conspicuous. Either can be effective.

Creating and maintaining great brands isn’t easy. Scott Lerman of Lucid Brands has a good description of what’s involved. The establishment of a great brand requires unifying and leveraging “an astounding array of people—leaders, followers, scientists, artists, magicians (consultants), engineers, establishmentarians, and revolutionaries.” Because of this, lots of brands are okay. Fewer are good. Relatively few are great. The hallmark of a great brand is that it makes great promises, then over-delivers. Only a small percentage can truly make that claim.

All promises, broken or fulfilled, establish a personal relationship. It’s no different with a brand than with a person. You may notice a difference in discussions with friends about the brands and products they admire. When talking about an okay brand, assuming that they talk about it at all, they’ll talk about the product. When talking about a truly great brand, one to which they pledge allegiance, they talk not just about the product, but also talk about the people behind it, regardless of whether they know who those people are. Because they know there had to be someone who was thinking, who understands us, who cares! The promise wasn’t just on target with their needs, the promise was exceeded. And we, as human beings, love that.